Samantha Pace Gasan on the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network
For the first time, the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network (CYGEN) has been launched on Wednesday 13th May 2015 by the Royal Commonwealth Society. The network consists of young experts who have actively been advocating, campaigning, researching and working in different Commonwealth communities on a number of areas, relating to youth and gender issues.
The first meeting was held in Malta on 12 – 17 May 2015 where such young participants came together to create the first policy document consisting of principles and recommendations on: youth transitions in Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship; Governance; SOGIGESC*; Child Marriage; Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.
I was blessed enough to be a part of it. The energy which all delegates brought was extremely positive; all believing in the power that each one of us has - the power to make change happen. By sharing our practices, experiences and challenges we have enriched each other and strengthened the will to work hard against discrimination.
Knowing that there are other people across the globe working with the same vision and targets as you truly enforces the idea of living in a world where everyone has their struggles, some of which are different and others more relating. It also makes us aware of the greater struggles which people from developing countries face, just because they are born there. We should appreciate more what we have, and consider ourselves lucky of what has been achieved. But that’s not all.
We need to work hard to end discrimination and violation of human rights on all levels. As Dr. Ruth Farrugia, Director of The President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society has emphasized during her presentation, “Human Rights are not a gift or a matter of charity. They are OURS.” Yet they are still being breached; hence we need to be ambitious, bold and committed.
With a focus on youth and gender issues, CYGEN will be lobbying and advocating the recommendations reflected in The Gender Agenda: Youth Perspectives from across the Commonwealth, particularly the “Gender Five”; with national and local governments. The Maltese delegation will be formulating a strategic plan to encourage relevant entities at community, local and national levels to adopt such principles and recommendations; in preparation for CHOGM Malta 2015 being held in November.
We are agents of social change. You can be too.
Samantha Pace Gasan
*Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics